Todd J. Gillman and Tom Benning The Dallas Morning News
WASHINGTON – Sen. Ted Cruz remained silent Friday on whether he accepts the President-elect Joe Biden’s overwhelming Electoral College victory four days earlier. And he has not ruled out objecting when Congress certifies that result, even as Texas’ senior senator offered his clearest comments yet dismissing any such challenge as baseless.
“The reports of the states’ electors ends any controversy about who the winner was,” Sen. John Cornyn told Texas reporters, calling the Electoral College’s 306-232 vote on Monday “conclusive.”
Cruz has not acknowledged Biden’s victory and has ignored multiple queries asking to explain why.
His spokeswoman, Lauren Bianchi, declined to comment on his views about the Electoral College result, or say whether he is considering objecting on Jan. 6 when Congress ratifies the tally. A handful of senators are the objects of speculation about their intentions and he’s one of them.
President Donald Trump has not conceded, and has continued to press unfounded claims of widespread fraud. Last Friday, the Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit filed by the state of Texas four days earlier seeking to nullify more than 20 million votes in four states that Biden won, flipping the election to Trump.
Cruz, who served as the state’s top appellate lawyer before his 2012 election, had agreed to argue the case on Trump’s behalf if the court agreed to hear it, suggesting that — unlike the state’s current solicitor, who refused to sign onto Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit, a highly unusual move – he probably felt the case had merit.
If at least one House member and one senator objects to accepting electors from any state, the House and Senate are obliged to debate the matter. Unless a majority in each chamber votes to reject the electors, the Electoral College tally will stand.
Democrats control the House, where Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., has vowed to object.
Republicans hold the Senate by a thread, and two runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5 will determine whether they remain in the majority the next day, when Congress meets to ratify the Electoral College result.
Even with a GOP majority, a challenge is doomed, though Cornyn’s comments on the Electoral College vote being conclusive hinge on the law, not an assessment on how many lawmakers might object.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and all of his top lieutenants have said the Electoral College vote settled any remaining questions.
McConnell also has made clear to GOP senators that he would not be happy if any of them objected, because it would put their colleagues in a no-win position politically.
They’d either be on the losing side of a vote to reject Biden’s victory, or the winning side of a vote that would be seen as an insult to Trump.
Despite the admonition, Alabama senator-elect Tommy Tuberville has indicated that he might object. “You’ll see what’s coming,” he said this week while stumping in Georgia.
“You’ve been reading about in the House. We’re going to have to do it in the Senate.”
Cornyn is a former member of the GOP leadership and remains an adviser. He held off acknowledging Biden’s victory until Monday, just before California electors put Biden over the top.
“As I read federal law, those results are conclusive,” he said Friday on a call with Texas news outlets. “And so Vice President Biden and Sen. Harris did win. That’s not the same thing, though, as saying we should ignore some of these election irregularities. But it is the fact, that under our system, those have to be litigated and decided before the electors’ votes are certified. Under federal law and under the Constitution, once the electors’ votes are certified, that’s conclusive and decides the outcome.”
Of 22 House Republicans from Texas, 16 still refuse to acknowledge Biden’s victory. Three had done so before the Electoral College voted. Three others did so afterward.